Writer and critic Olivia Laing has in recent years been hailed as a

‘major presence in contemporary non-fiction.’ In this remarkable new collection of essays, she brings together a career’s worth of writing about art, making a brilliant and inspiring case for why it matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the 21st century.


From profiles of Derek Jarman, David Wojnarowicz, Agnes Martin and Jean-Michel Basquiat to interviews with Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith and Sarah Lucas to essays on loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body, Laing looks to art as a force of resistance and repair.


In a frightening political moment, in which the humantities are being catastrophically undervalued, we’re often told that art can’t really change anything. Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world. It gives us X-ray vision. It makes plain inequalities and it offers fertile new ways of living.